Check of untested rape kits yields surprising results - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Check of untested rape kits in Wayne County yields surprising results

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By ROBIN SCHWARTZ
MyFox Detroit Reporter

NORTHVILLE, Mich. (MyFox Detroit) -- The numbers are staggering, but the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office says 11,000 rape kits were found untested in a police property building in 2009. Now that several hundred have been though a lab, it appears at least 21 suspected serial rapists are out there on the streets.

"I'm calling it a pandemic because it is so tragic and so much work has to be done," said Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who spoke to us by phone on Mackinac Island where she is attending a conference.

She said right now the 21 suspects are only known by their DNA, but investigators are working to put names and faces with the evidence in the lab.

"This is the best way that we have to find the perpetrators and perhaps link them to other cases," said Dr. Jurgen Switalski.

Each kit takes from three hours to two days for the initial screening and four to six weeks for the DNA testing. It's a lengthy process, and we're told it could take years to clear up this backlog.

"We are getting hits. We are finding suspects on cases on a day to day basis," said Glen Hall.

However, as technicians tackle that mountain of evidence, the suspects are free to commit more crimes. Worthy said one alarming example is serial killer Shelly Brooks, whose murders were first exposed by the Problem Solvers in 2002. He is accused of killing seven prostitutes. Worthy said some of those women would still be alive if evidence had been processed more quickly.

"There's much of the crime that could've been avoided, no question about it."

With about 600 tests now completed, there's been just one conviction. Two suspects are awaiting trial, and thousands of victims are still waiting for justice.

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